How to Research and Develop Ideas for Stellar Content

Today, content is the strong hold of online presence. Businesses use content to inform, educate, persuade, convince, and entertain.

In most cases (more than we care to admit) content sells. Admittedly, it's hard to create good content because of multiple elements that go into the mix - from research, ideation, creation and then on to technical aspects of content production such as links, SEO, etc.

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Keyword Research

SEOMoz's Introductory article on "How to Do Keyword Research" is the best place to start learning about keyword research. The article details how to get past the first, troublesome, and sometimes loathsome - but important - step leading to sustainable content creation.

Terms such as "keyword density" and "Strategic Placement of Keywords" are pass. Keyword research is not for finding keywords that fetch you immediate returns or traffic windfalls especially with poor content thanks to Google's Vigil and the notoriously impatient, click-happy web user.

Keyword research is only a rough guide to help you generate focused content; it's to help you to streamline your efforts towards content creation that's relevant for your business.

Expert writing would have deft placement of keywords enough for the post/article to be strategic and "keyword dense" to some degree. Nick Osbourne - copywriter and coach - says it best in his post "When Keywords Don't Deliver "

Your initial keyword research will act as a firm foundation for your content generation. Deploy keyword research tools to help you ascertain the profitability of a niche. Use keyword research as a gainful way to predetermine the semantic habits of users conducting searches on Google. Keyword research should lead you create content around clusters of keywords based on user intent, which can be broadly classified into the following:

Navigational Queries

When users type in half or a random part of a URL (usually a brand name), search engines present the actual URL to users. These are common queries that have less commercial but high brand value with average opportunities for traffic. Keywords that target navigational queries pull searchers inbound to websites, provide for investigatory traffic.

Transactional Queries

While transactional queries are not limited to financial transactions, they do mean any sort of trigger response from visitors including call-to-action responses, highly specific information searches (local restaurants or merchants). Transactional keywords thereby provide for high-value, relevant, and focused inbound traffic presenting opportunities for content marketers.

Informational Queries

Getting quick answers to questions, ego-searches, and any other research for non-transactional information lead to informational queries. A Majority of the searches on the Internet falls into this category of informational queries. Informational queries are also the golden opportunity for information marketers who hope make content work for their businesses. Content developed to suit informational queries ultimately help build inbound links, social mentions, grab attention from other blogs and websites, and to develop long-term trust.

Ideation & Researching For Content

Choosing keywords that work for your business and developing content around them isn't easy. Keywords, by themselves, are just the start. For businesses, expected results only accrue over time when each of these keywords is inserted creatively into content. Developing content based on creative ideas gives you the room to insert keywords into your copy.

Unleash creativity with judicious use of keywords and masterful content creation to get the right mix of profitable results for your business.

Here are some ideas to "ideate" and find angles for creating fresh content:

Hunt For Facts, People, Sources And Expert Opinions

Every possible topic, idea, and thought has had an expert speak up on it. If nothing, you could look for news coverage, a magazine clip, or even a video or an audio on that particular idea. Hunt for such sources that you'd need as foundation to build your content with.

Quoting other experts, interviewing others, and citing facts will make your content stand out. These are all principles of power writing and form the basics of journalism.

Do What Works

Some types of content always seem to work better than others. For example, infographics are popular these days. Further, video (for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices) is quite the rage while text still dominates. The iOS app "iTunes Podcast" ushered a newfound demand for audio and video podcasts.

Create what works. Repurpose one type of content into another. Stick with what works and you can't go wrong with this approach.

Draw Parallels

Do you read magazines? How about books? You could glean ideas from books and magazines and port these ideas over to the web.

Ideas and concepts that work great for magazines might just work for your corporate blog. Notice how magazines use headlines, copy, art, and layout design.

Draw parallels and use the same strategies for your online content. You can draw parallels from non-publishing world too: glean ideas from movies, advertising, fashion, and practically any other area in our lives.

It's all about finding your inspiration. Where are you looking for it?

Master Story Telling

Humans have a weak spot for stories. No matter how many stories we have, we seem to want more.

If so, all you need to do is to learn the art of masterful story telling. Mesmerize your audiences with stories, cases, anecdotes, little plays, and even full-fledged drama - all woven into your content -- if you can pull it off.

On the web, the last thing anyone wants is another textbook entry.

Listen & Deduce

Question & answer websites such as Quora, Yahoo Answers, and LinkedIn Answers - or practically any community (online or offline) - are all great sources for ideas on content creation.

All you need to do is to "answer" burning questions as separate pieces of content so that you can get into detailed explanations. Persuasive, confident, detailed and justified answers exalt you to "expert" status. Trust and appreciation for your work will inevitably flow.

Mash, Curate, Collect

One of the easier ways to generate pillar content is to create resource pages, curated lists, collections, slide decks, e-reports, and presentations from other great content that's already available on the web.

In spite of all the content available on the web, most users doesn't have the time or the inclination to dig deep to find what they need, especially if you cater to niche audiences. Content curators weed out the specifics, the extraordinary, and the vital pieces of information from the rest of the content.

For example, let's assume that you have a magazine-style website for self-employed real estate agents or realtors.

We already know that a few leading, trusted sources such as Macworld, Read Write Web, and TechCrunch already publish posts on some of the best iPhone apps that self-employed persons or small business owners should use.

With the information available, thorough research, and as long as it's relevant, you could create ideas for content specific for realtors such as the following:

  • 15 iPhone Apps No Realtor Should Be Without
  • 17 Mac Apps For The Roving Realtor
  • 8 Web-based, Life Saving Project Collaboration Tools for Realty Project Management

You get the drift, don't you?

Similarly, you might curate or collect information highly relevant for geographic locales, specific demographics, different age groups, and perhaps curate content for one single gender.

Ideas will flow. You'll create content that works for you. Business is good.

How does your content production look like?

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy How To Use Google Suggest With Your Own Google Analytics Data

About the Author: Pratik Dholakiya

Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of The 20 Media, a content marketing agency specializing in content & data-driven SEO. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Digital PR. Pratik has spoken at 80th Annual Conference of Florida Public Relations Association, Accounting & Finance Show, Singapore, NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, SEMrush Meetup, MICA, IIT-Roorkee and other major events. As a passionate SEO & content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory and Inc42 to name a few.

The 20 Media

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